Well, well. Guess who just sat down to a five page entirely Gluten Free menu, a wonderful three course meal including CEASAR salad, had to skip dessert because I was too full to even get up out of my seat and even had left overs for dinner the next day....
oh yeah, you guessed it, your friendly neighborhood Celiac, Jenny. That's right. The boyfriend and I, along with some friends headed out for a good old steak dinner and this time instead of the tried and true and always GF ribs at Tony Roma's, we decided to try somewhere new. We looked through the phone book and phoned several other steak and rib houses including Montanna's but with no luck on finding a Gluten Free friendly menu.
Finally I phoned The Outback Steak House and was cheerfully greeted by a hostest who informed me that they had a full sized Gluten Free menu. A full sized Gluten Free menu?? What?? Did I hear that correctly?? Yes, was the reply, so we booked a table through call ahead and took off across the city.
We arrived and gave our names at the desk and I asked to see the infamous full length GF menu and was handed a heavy, yes heavy, five page booklet. The girl at the desk was extremly helpful and told me just to tell my server and all would be taken care of.
We were seated in 15 mins and I was glad to have a table to set the menu down on to really give it a good look through. It took me the same length of time to go through my menu as it did for the guys.
The menu itself contained an introduction stating where the GF information came from and who prepared it. There is a disclaimer to take into consideration any persoanl health needs while using the menu and all gluten free infomation is marked in RED so it is easily visualized. There was everything from ceasar salad to full steak or rib and chicken dinners. The menu was very clear on what could be eaten all the way down to the seasonings and preparation methods. There was even a flourless brownie dessert.
I do have some mild criticisms of the menu however... there were no prices on the GF menu and that made it hard to read and forced me to check on the regular menu over my boyfriend's shoulder. Also the non-gluten free items were still on the menu with full descriptions, although it was nice to know why I couldn't have it, it did get redundant to have to again search for the safe foods, albeit easier to find due to the red inked GF's. Personally, the menu was extensive enough in it's GF items that to have a three page toally GF menu sounds like a fantasic idea.
The server was really great. It wasn't that she was knowledagable to any particular extent about the GF diet but she knew that all she had to do was write CELIAC on the order and all would be fine. She knew that Celiacs and Gluten Free go hand in and hand and used the terms comfortably and interchangably. It was very confidence inspiring and reassuring.
When the meals came out, salads first, the serving staff was different but they handed over my meal with the announcement that it was Gluten Free and stated no croutons or no seasonings. It was pretty amazing. The food was fantastic. I loved the chicken, cooked to perfection. The ribs were tear off the bone soft and I ate way more than I should've. They are a bit heavy on the sauce for the salad and the meats but it was great sauce so no harm done. As a celiac sauce in a restaurant is sometimes a rarity so when it comes in an abundant it can be overpowering. I'll just ask for light sauce next time round.
The servers were attentive and the staff was friendly. On my way out I stopped to talk with a manager and met Ryan Winterton, that evening's manager. He was friendly and very informative about the Outback's veiwpoint and commitment to provided safe GF meals for their Celiac patrons. He gave me his card for the Edmonton location, there is also a Calgary location (although I have not been there, I am told it is similar) the info is below.
So please check it out the next time you are in the mood for some good ribs and or chicken.
Outback Steak House - Edmonton
17118 90th Ave. Edmonton AB T5T 4C8
ph (780) 484-5400
130 Crowfoot Terrace NW, Calgary, AB